Matt has been Diabetes UK’s Video Producer for three-and-a-half years. Here he tells us what he’s learned producing our This is Diabetes campaign, and how living with type 1 diabetes means he’s always ready for anything.
In a nutshell, being a video producer means it’s been my job to bring people together and make things happen. It’s the first time I’ve worked on a big television advertising campaign like this, so it’s been a great experience for me to work alongside the families starring in the campaign and the film crew to make something really special.
Working as a video producer is very fast paced, but it can also be stressful. You can spend a lot of time away from home, and a lot of time on your feet. But I’ve always had to travel for work, so I approach my diabetes in a precautionary, prepared way.
A video producer needs a lot of kit. I always have my camera bag that I take on all shoots which – of course – contains all my camera equipment. But I also make sure I also have my hypo treatments, my spare insulin, a Lucozade and snacks.
Diabetes on the go
When I go on shoots, I’m probably going to be staying in hotels, and I’m probably going to be away from home for a while. I’m sometimes in the middle of nowhere! So I always make sure I keep my diabetes kit in two places – in case I lose a bag or something like that – and making sure I’ve got spare Libres, insulin, or anything else I might need.
"I got my Libre through the NHS about five months ago and, I know people always say this, but it’s an absolute game changer." — Matt
It’s just given me better management, and it’s given me a better understanding of what’s happening to my blood sugars when I’m not testing.
It’s really important as a producer to know what’s happening with my blood sugars. With me, stress certainly affects it. I could be managing completely fine, but if I have six hours on a shoot, trying to get things done on time, my blood sugar will just naturally rise. But using the Libre, if I know I'm going to have a really stressful afternoon, I'll just be checking more often. And if I'm getting those upwards arrows, I’ll counter that with the right amount of insulin for me.
Of course I’ve had times when things have gone slightly wrong with my diabetes – everyone has! But I’m lucky because I work at Diabetes UK, and everyone has a pretty good understanding of the condition. But there have been situations where I’ve been in meetings and I’ve gone hypo. You get the sweats, you start feeling a bit rubbish, and you start talking rubbish! But working somewhere where everyone understands, you can say ‘look guys, I need five minutes, I need to sort this.’
When reality sank in
I was seven when I was diagnosed. I’m lucky, because my mum was really switched on. I was on holiday. And it got to the point where I could barely walk. I just had absolutely no energy, and I was going to the toilet every 15 minutes. So as soon as we got back, my mum got me straight to the GPs. Wee in a cup. They thought it was diabetes, so it was off to the hospital for three days.
And I remember when they told me about diabetes, as a kid, I had no understanding what that meant. So I honestly wasn’t that worried. I just remember having a day off school, and being allowed to go home and play video games. I remember thinking ‘diabetes is dope, great. Love this’.
But then the reality sank in when I had to go to hospital for three days. And you’re told: ‘Oh, your family can't stay with you’. So I was seven years old on this ward with other kids who had illnesses. And I remember just feeling so sad. Just lying there in a bed was absolutely miserable.
I think, from memory, I feel like my parents took it in their stride. You know, there may have been things said behind closed doors. But they’re farmers, and they’re used to hard work!
"At points, you feel like you’re just on holiday in Torquay, but you’re also thinking: ‘I’m working a 12-hour day and I'm really stressed!’.." — Matt
A video producer's perspective
As a video producer, you're in a really pretty privileged position where you get invited into people's homes and lives. Honestly, at points, it doesn't feel like you're working.
With this campaign, we tried to show what living with diabetes feels like, what it's like to live with the day in day out of it. We want to help people see a different perspective and, perhaps, overcome some of those misunderstandings that are out there. Diabetes is so different for absolutely everyone, but I hope we can show that you’re not alone, and that someone is there to help.